A coalition of left-leaning unions and activist groups in New Jersey released a statement today calling on Senator Bob Menendez to support a proposal allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, an issue on which Menendez is currently one of a small number of congressional Democratic holdouts.
The coalition was coordinated by NJ Citizen Action; among the other groups signing on are the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey chapter of the NAACP, and the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE).
“It is unconscionable that one of the most impactful and badly needed reforms in the reconciliation package could be blocked by New Jersey’s own Democratic Senator,” said Maura Collinsgru of NJ Citizen Action. “By standing against broad reforms that would lower drug prices for all, the Senator is standing against his own constituents and his own record as a health care champion.”
Debbie White, the president of HPAE, added that her union is intimately involved with the issue of drug pricing and supports allowing Medicare to negotiate costs.
“As the largest union of healthcare workers in New Jersey, we urge Senator Menendez to remove the barriers to affordable medications for our patients so they can maintain their health and well-being,” she said.
But Menendez’s office pushed back on the statement, saying that the senator won’t hold up President Joe Biden’s agenda.
“Senator Menendez has never once said he will oppose allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices in the reconciliation package,” a Menendez spokesperson said. “He’s certainly not one of the Democrats in the Senate threatening to derail the President’s agenda and continues to work closely with his colleagues to advance multiple priorities in the reconciliation package to deliver results for New Jerseyans.”
This story was updated at 6:06 p.m. with comment from the Menendez office.